MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minneapolis City Council approved a resolution on Friday calling on Village Voice Media to end publication of its online classified section that facilitates the trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation.
Minneapolis Police report that all 20 child sex trafficking cases it’s investigated so far in 2012 involved juvenile victims being marketed and exploited through Backpage.com.
Mayor R.T. Rybak has been aware of the criminal nature of Backpage.com since his days in journalism.
“When I published the Twin Cities Reader in the 1990s, we turned down ads from Backpage.com because we refused to participate in the trafficking of women and children. It cost us a lot of money, but it was the right thing to do,” said Rybak. “Times have changed. Now, ending sex trafficking is a national priority, and Minneapolis Police and city attorneys are doing incredible work to fight it right here. I’m pleased that today, the Minneapolis City Council joined the fight by calling on Village Voice Media to shut down the adult section of BackPage.com.”
Several religious organizations, law enforcement officials and advocacy groups and have called for the shutdown of Backpage.com. The National Association of Attorneys General has also filed charges against a person who trafficked or attempted to traffic minors using Backpage.com in more than 50 instances in 22 states over three years.
Minneapolis City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden says fighting child exploitation is of high importance in the city.
“Combatting child prostitution and trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation is a top priority for the City of Minneapolis and has been a focus for Minneapolis Police, the City Attorney’s office and other City staff and community partners,” she said. “We’ve made progress on this, and calling for the shutdown of this website is a great step, but there is much more we are planning to do to end the sexual exploitation of youth.”
The Advocates for Human Rights and the Minnesota Office of Justice Programs of the Minnesota Department of Public provided the following statistics to put the state’s sex trafficking woes in perspective:
• The average age of entry into prostitution and/or sex trafficking for a girl is 12-14 years old.
• 124 girls were sold on the Internet in Aug. 2010 alone, which is a 55 percent increase since Feb. 2010
• 8,000 to 12,000 people are estimated to be involved in prostitution and/or sex trafficking in Minnesota every day.